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Date and time

Friday 16 September 2022
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (CEST)


Webinar via Zoom in Spanish and Portuguese, with simultaneous interpretation.

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Target audience

Public and private actors in the sustainable mobility and tourism sectors Spain – Portugal.


Webinar’s description and objectives

The webinar aims to create a high point on the issue of relaunching the Spanish-Portuguese night and day trains. It will give an overview and analyze transport modal share in terms of tourism and mobility between the two countries. It will also engage with operators and stakeholders to support the relaunch of medium and long distance cross-border trains.


The transport sector is responsible for 25% of the European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions. It thus plays a key role in achieving climate neutrality by 2050 and, therefore, promoting sustainable mobility and the modal shift towards low-carbon transport are necessary in the fight against climate change. Today, although rail is considered as the cleanest transport mode in terms of medium-long distance mobility, it is yet not used at its full potential, especially not in the context of cross-border mobility. 

The predominant mode of transport between Portugal and Spain is road traffic: in 2018, 91,5% of travelers used cars to cross the border, 7,8% used air transport, 0,3% used maritime transport. Yet, rail only represents 0,4% of the modal share. In addition, air traffic between these two countries has been increasing in the past years

Mobility patterns in the tourism sector must indeed change to decarbonize transport. For both Spain and Portugal, the tourism industry is one of the major drivers of the economy. Spain is the second most visited country in the world, reaching 81.8 million visitors in 2019; with Portugal being its 8th largest emitting market. Portugal is also an important tourist destination in Europe as it recorded 27 million tourists in 2019; with Spain being the third largest emitting market to Portugal, behind the United Kingdom and France. 

This sector is, since March 2020, one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the current crisis offers an opportunity to rethink the footprint of tourism, especially in terms of its relationship with the territory and the communities, with an increased contribution to the SDGs and to the objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

So how can we promote rail transport in the context of Portuguese-Spanish low-carbon cross-border mobility?

Europe on Rail is an initiative led by European Civil Society Organizations to reduce carbon emissions from international mobility.

eco-union is a Spanish Think and Do Tank. Its aim is to promote the socio-ecological transition towards sustainability in Europe and the Mediterranean region. We are working with governments, companies and international institutions to develop and implement public policies as well as knowledge-sharing about sustainable mobility, green and blue economy, among other sustainable development issues.

ZERO is a Portuguese Environmental NGO working on a broad range of topics, divided into five areas of action: Climate Change, Energy and Mobility; Sustainable Communities and Circular Economy; Soil and Land Management; Water and Oceans; Biodiversity, Agriculture and Forestry. ZERO has several national and European projects in these areas and is active on communication and awareness raising but with a clear focus on advocacy.



11:00 – Presentation of the organizers & introduction to the workshop

Presentation of the Webinar and the Europe on Rail initiative. Overview of cross-border connections and passenger flows between Portugal and Spain

  • eco-union: Helena Fortea, Communication & Project Officer
  • ZERO: Acácio Pires, Project Officer

11:10 – Cross-border tourism and travel between Portugal and Spain: socio-economic aspects and environmental challenges

– What are the environmental impacts associated with travels in Portugal & Spain?
– How can we promote sustainable tourism mobility between both countries?
– How can we compel organizations/companies to shift from air to rail travel?

  • Prof. Carlo Secchi, European Coordinator for the TEN-T Atlantic Corridor
  • Hugo Tente, Researcher at Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the New University of Lisbon on the environmental impacts of transport 

11:50 – Towards Modal shift to rail: a problem of infrastructures, services or demand?

– How can we promote a modal shift to rail in the context of Portuguese-Spanish mobility?
– How can we revive cross-border lines that have been permanently discontinued?
– How can we improve and what are the prospects for the Madrid-Lisbon connection?

  • Jorge Ballesteros, Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, MITMA 
  • Carlos Fernandes, Vice President of Infraestruturas de Portugal (IP)
  • Valentín Alegría, Director of Innovation and Network Strategy in RENFE

12:25 – Conclusion & closure

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